'Benji' Was One of the Most Famous Small Dogs in History

Posted by Christy Caplan
Stray Homeless Dog

The original "Benji" film was written and directed by Joe Camp and centered on a tiny canine saving two kidnapped children who were kind enough to feed the homeless street dog.

I grew up in the 70s, and Benji films were part of my childhood. This scrappy dog was always helping someone overcome a problem. I lived for these movies. The first film appeared in 1974 and there were many more through the 2000s.

For those that literally haven't heard of Benji and need a reminder of what the original movie was about, here's a quick synopsis:

"Stray dog Benji doesn't need an owner, preferring to roam freely all over his friendly Texas town. He delights in hectoring the cat of a local widow (Frances Bavier), and can always rely on a kindly shopkeeper (Edgar Buchanan) for a handout. But, when two children Benji loves are kidnapped and held for ransom, the dog springs into action, taking it upon himself to foil the crooks and save the day. Along the way, he also falls in love with a beautiful Maltese named Tiffany."

Let's remember Benji

Here are a few wonderful memories and fun facts we found about Benji.

  • Benji was a rescue dog discovered at The Burbank Animal Shelter near Hollywood.
  • The original Benji was played by canine actor, Higgins.
  • Frank Inn was a dog and animal trainer that worked on films with canine actors and discovered Higgins for the Benji movies.
  • The idea for the Benji film came from Joe Camp, who made his living producing commercials in Dallas. Camp wrote the script and began contacting people in Hollywood, only to receive rejection after rejection.
  • Higgins's first role was as the nameless dog on Petticoat Junction.
  • Higgins' line did not end with the original Benji dog, and Higgins' daughter Benjean (Benji for short) stepped up to do many of the Benji sequels.
  • Higgins's daughter, Benjean, played Benji in For the Love of Benji (1977).
  • Higgins was a mutt and the mixed breeds consisted of Cocker Spaniel, Poodle, and Schnauzer.
  • Brandon Camp, son of the creator Joe Camp, opted to bring out a remake of the original movie (1974) for Netflix. The dog who stars in this film was found after a search of animal shelters.
  • Lassie and Benji are both retro but beloved canine film stars!

Our fave part of the story is that Benji was a shelter dog and turned into a Hollywood star! Perhaps the best breed for your lifestyle is a mixed breed.

Do you agree with these fun facts about Benji?  Please let us know what you think in the comments.

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'Benji' Was One of the Most Famous Small Dogs in History